Name of Method
The framework describes four stages in developing a scaling strategy: clarifying aims and goals for scaling, establishing what to scale up, choosing a route to scale, gearing up to deliver a scaling strategy. The writers identify four common routes for scaling-up: influence and advise; build a delivery network; form strategic partnerships and grow an organisation to deliver. Each route has a different focus and activities however, social innovators often pursue more than one strategy; some organisations use all four routes to scale.
Type/Level of Method
The framework can help social innovators to set up a scaling strategy and identify what activities are best suited for their approach.
Problem, Purpose and Needs
The framework is meant to help social innovators to develop a deliberate scaling strategy.
Relevance to Climate Neutrality
Essential Considerations for Commissioning Authorities
Governance Models and Approaches
Spectrum of participation
Actors and Stakeholder Relationships
Stakeholder participation is not a part of the framework and strategy development. However involving stakeholders is seen as a factor with positive influence on the scaling process.
Actors and Stakeholders
Interaction between participants
Social Innovation Development Stage
Scaling is a long-term process. The framework can be used to set up a strategy for scaling and the strategy can be adapted during the scaling process as well. There is no strict beginning and ending to the method.
Resources and Investments
Resources and Investments
Step by Step
In order to succesfully scale up, a scaling strategy has to be developed. NESTA has identified four (interrelated) stages in the process, which are presented as questions that an organisation could ask itself.
1. What are your goals for scaling?
Scaling often starts with a single project, service or product. Setting clear goals is important here, as there are many opportunities that could arise in the process of scaling. Since these could lead to very different outcomes, decisions will have to be made which to pursue and which not. A good way to focus is developing a theory of change, which can specify long-term goals, intermediate outcomes and assumptions how to achieve them. In addition, determining the number of people who might benefit from the innovation and to what extent this is feasible, can also help in setting goals.
Reflecting on personal skills and ambitions can also be useful in this stage, as the development and scaling up of social innovation might require skills that founders of initiatives do not necessarily have. For example, managing people, delegating tasks, long-term thinking or handling the higher complexities in marketing, finance or logistics.
2. What are you going to scale up?
Considering how the innovation is perceived through the lens of supply and demand can help to determine what to scale up. Upscaling will only be successful if the innovation is better than its alternatives on several key points and that people, are willing to spend money on it, whether these are consumers, public organisations or funders. When there is a high demand, then social innovators should focus on 'riding the wave', whereas when demand is little, they should instead prioritise advocacy.
When scaling up, most social innovations need some form of refining. Framing a social innovation for growth or replication is the first step. However, it is not always straightforward, as there are different ways in which this could be achieved. Therefore, it is necessary to understand what are the elements that are fundamental in the innovation in order for it to work in the real world and achieve (social) impact, the so-called 'core' of the innovation. For example, in order to guide a neighbourhood to carbon neutrality, it is essential to identify the local gatekeepers and frontrunners, who can then create support in the rest of the neighbourhood. Identifying the core of the innovation helps innovators to make strategic choices, keep focused and decide which parts of the innovation can be adapted for local contexts. It also makes it easier to transfer knowledge and determine which costs are not essential for scaling.
Contextual factors also can influence scaling. For example, it might be worthwhile exploring to what extent a social innovation improves ways of doing within an existing context (sustaining) or invents new ways of doing which can challenge the existing context (disrupting). The latter is signifantly more difficult to scale, as it involves changing attitudes, habits, power relations and institutional interests. In contrast, innovations which fit well within the existing context (systems and structures) are much easier to scale.
3. What route to scale are you going to take?
NESTA suggests four routes or common models that can be used to scale up, which can be pursued simultaneously and/or overlap:
1. Influence and advise
This route appears to be most suitable for social innovations which have principles or make use of methods that could be applied in different contexts, particularly when they originate from concepts which could be further explored. It is characterised by its lack of a formal connection between the innovator and their audience, which makes it impossible to control how the innovation is actually being implemented. However, it can reach a broad audience and can be suitable for disruptive social innovations.
2. Build a delivery network
In order to spread their service or programme, innovators often make use of a delivery network of organisations which can take up their practices. These can resemble social movements or can be more focused on the replication of specific practices. Innovators that follow the social movement route often try to instil a feeling of shared direction and purpose, while at the same time maintaining the spirit of the original concept. Examples of these types of networks are federations and communities of practice.
In contrast, in delivery networks that focus on replication, the central organisation still maintains control on the spreading of the original concept, with the network members having some influence on the eventual implementation. Examples are social franchising and formal collaborations.
3. Form strategic partnerships
Scaling can be accelerated by strategically partnering with another organisation, as it makes it possible to access to new technologies, skills and capabilities which were not present in the original organisation or would have taken long to develop. Examples include partnering with, or being taken over by, public sector organisations (integration) or large private corporations. Other types of partnerships include 'bees and trees', where social innovators (the bees) pollinate the larger established organisations (the trees). In this way, the innovators, who have innovations and ideas, supply the organisations, who have the resources and reach.
4. Grow an organisation to deliver
Scaling up a social innovation by growing the organisation that is behind it often seems the most logical approach, allowing the largest amount of control over the spreading of the innovation. It might be the most suitable way to scale for innovations whose core is based on the knowledge of particular individuals or innovations are difficult to replicate, due to the large amount of knowledge transfer that would be required. This route is also used for social innovations that use products sold directly to consumers. If the central organisation is large enough already, the innovation can be scaled through its existing channels and resources. However, for most (small) social innovators, this would pose several challenges in terms of management, as it would mean building their organisation up or diversifying its activities.
4. How will you gear up to scale?
A common challenge for innovators is to manage the transition from a startup to a larger organisation. Many of the issues were related to human resources, such as having to shift from all employees doing everything to having specialised roles within the organisation with clear hierarchies, which called for a change in how to recruit new personnel.
Similarly, there might be changes in terms of accountability, as a larger organisation might have funders or investors, which might exert their influence, making strong governance essential. A growing organisation might also mean that not all employees might understand or subscribe to the organisation's goals and activities, which makes it necessary to explicitly communicate the organisational culture and value to all employees.
Scaling an organisation also requires different skills for its leaders, such as operational management, the ability to delegate and managing organisational change.
The framework can be evaluated by evaluating the scaling processes. Think of questions like: was it clear how to set up the scaling strategies? Did the approaches suit the purpose well? Was there enough flexibility to tailor the scaling strategy?
Flexibility and Adaptability
In a climate neutrality context, all four routes described could be applied, depending on what the particular issue is that is being addressed. Influence and advise and Form strategic partnerships is currently commonly used by cities and local initiatives (for example: information campaigns and energy consultations). Building a delivery network and Grow and organisation to deliver are used less frequently, but in some cases, both municipalities and local energy initiatives (sometimes in collaboration with each other) can set this up for specific services.
Existing Guidelines and Best Practice
The framework is based on case studies and interviews with social innovators (Apps for Good, BRAC, Code Club, GoodGym, National Citizen Service, Pratham, Teach First, Timewise Foundation). Case descriptions can be found in the previous section as well as the report.